~ HOW TO CATCH HALIBUT & ROCKCOD ~
While both fish are bottom dwellers, their habitat is mutually exclusive. Halibut like sandy bottoms and Lings like rocky structure. Under the best of circumstances you’ll find halibut in sandy flats surrounded by rocky structure but for fishing sake it’s usually one type of fish or the other.
For Halibut, you’ll fish in 100 ft of water or less. Bouncing a lure (Jig, Crocodile, Worm King) on the sandy bottom will work, but live bait fished on the drift (dragging bottom) on a dropper loop above a heavy lead (on a party boat you pretty much want to be straight up & down) works great. Halibut feel like you are pulling up a piece of carpet, do it slow and easy and they’ll remain catatonic until the gaff.
Use a balanced Rod and reel. A rod should have a good bend and be parabolic. Spool up with fresh line regularly and use 10-12-15 pound test line. 15 pound line maximum. Keep in mind that Halibut have good eyesight and are line shy. As the diameter of the line goes up the likelihood of getting a bite goes down. Also don’t use the “High Vis” lines out. Pick a low in the water option like dark green, blue or brown. Highly recommend Ande Premium Green.
The most important thing on the reel is the drags. Pick a good size real as the drags have more area than a smaller one. Make sure that they are working smoothly! A rod tip should not jerk as line is pulled off the reel. The rod length does not matter as you are not casting. Just drop the bait to the bottom.
Use an egg sinker above the swivel and then add up to 18 to 24 inches of leader. Using just enough weight based on depth and drift to hold the bottom. Shorten the leader if drifting fast or deep. Stock up on the 1/8 to 2 oz. egg sinkers. Use your regular line for the leader. Don’t use spectra as you want the stretch in the line. The knot to use is the Trileen knot or the Palomar Tides.
Here’s the big key factor ~ The fish are biting best on the incoming tide or just after a high tide. That is if there is a good swing, ie; Before a full moon. The fish will not be as active if the tide change is minimal.
When Halibut fishing let the line slide thru the sinker when a halibut picks up your bait. Let the line go out with “no resistance.” Or as little as possible. Do not “set the hook” with a big swing. Let the hook do it’s job. But do make sure it is very sharp as halibut do have bony mouth. Use fine wire hooks. A good brand is the Eagle Claw L118. A treble hook works ok in smaller baits ~~~ but they pick up snags and no fish will hit a bait with a string of grass hanging from it, except for the odd white shark, however there hasn’t been too many in the area lately ~ don’t worry.
Four levels of desirability ~ From most favorable to least favorable are…
Herring / Queenfish / Sardines
Mackerel (clip the tail to slow it down)